CINCINNATI – Twins manager Paul Molitor knows he’s running out of time on making an important decision regarding his rotation.
“It’s getting closer,” he said. “I think about it a lot. I talk to [pitching coach] Neil Allen and [bullpen coach] Eddie Guardado about it. I’m not going to make it before I have to.”
Ervin Santana is expected to make his Twins debut Sunday at Kansas City after serving an 80-game suspension for testing positive for the banned substance Stanozolol. That means someone will have to be removed from the rotation to make way for him; the Twins don’t appear willing to try a six-man rotation.
If recent outings are the separator, righthander Trevor May would appear to be on the hot seat. May on Friday got one out while giving up six runs to Milwaukee, while the other members of the rotation have ranged from being functional to Tommy Milone posting a 2.03 ERA in June.
Then again, May is scheduled to start Wednesday against Cincinnati and could make the Twins’ decision ever tougher with a strong outing.
The starting rotation entered Tuesday with a 3.96 ERA that is sixth-best in the American League. Now Santana is coming, and someone has to go. It’s a decision that could touch some nerves.
“I think it is going to be important that whoever is involved with that, that we really take our time to communicate why and what our plans are and why it is going to make us better overall,” Molitor said. “We’ve got guys penciled in up until the day Ervin is supposed to return. We’ll see where we are at. Hopefully these guys will continue to make it tough on us by giving us good starts.”
General Manager Terry Ryan said if the team remembers that the objective is to win, then whoever must leave the rotation for Santana should understand the reason for the move.
“Things happen, we all know that,” Ryan said. “Paul is very adept with connecting with players, I can tell you that. Most players will be very receptive. If I went to them, it might be a different story. It will be a tough decision for whoever winds up getting squeezed.”
Santana on Tuesday will make his final tuneup start for Class AAA Rochester before he’s eligible to be activated.
Nolasco to specialist
It’s opinion No. 3 for righthander Ricky Nolasco, who has been out since June 1 because of an impingement in his right ankle.
This time, Nolasco is headed to Charlotte, N.C., to see specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, who has treated Derek Jeter and several NFL players. The Twins have tried rest, rehabilitation and orthotics with Nolasco, but he still feels discomfort when he tries to pitch. It would appear that surgery is an increasing option, but the Twins haven’t indicated that yet.
Close to home
Kyle Gibson and Alex Meyer could have bumped into each other in the hot dog line at old Riverfront Stadium without knowing they would one day be teammates.
Gibson was born in Greenfield, Ind., and Meyer about 40 miles away in Greensburg, Ind. Cincinnati was the nearest major league city, and both attended many Reds games while growing up.
“I remember my first one,” Meyer said. “Tony Gwynn was playing [for the Padres]. I was 5 or 6 but still remember. My dad was telling me, ‘He’s going to be one of the best hitters ever.’ ”
Gibson said he and his father, Harold, would park across the Ohio River in Covington, Ky., and walk to the ballpark.
“He dropped me off [Monday] and we were talking about that big blue bridge [near the park],” Gibson said. “We would park on the other side and walk across that bridge and get tickets. It was pretty fun.”
• With balloting set to end at 10:59 p.m. Thursday, the Twins won’t have anyone pushing to be selected an All-Star Game starter. Brian Dozier has the statistics but has not even cracked the top five among second basemen. The only Twins player to appear in Monday’s update was Torii Hunter, and he’s 14th among outfielders.
• Outfielder Aaron Hicks threw out a runner attempting to score during a doubleheader Sunday, so his right forearm appears to be fine. But he’s 1-for-11 at the plate through three games of his rehabilitation assignment. “After not playing for a while we all agree he probably needs to be there a little longer,” Molitor said. “How long? We haven’t determined that yet.”